Bilateral relations with Cuba are good, being characterised by continuity. Switzerland has provided development cooperation since the year 2000, and also offers humanitarian aid.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Cuba
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland and Cuba have been engaged in political dialogue since 2007 as part of regular consultations. The two countries have concluded agreements on trade, investment protection and promotion, air transport, and the transfer of sentenced persons. Switzerland represented the United States' interests in Cuba from 1961 until the US and Cuba resumed diplomatic relations in July 2015. Switzerland also represented the interests of Cuba in the United States from 1991 to July 2015.
The Swiss-Cuban Chamber of Commerce promotes trade relations between the two countries, which are modest. In 2016 Switzerland imported CHF 34.2 million worth of goods, mainly agricultural products, from Cuba. Swiss exports – mainly machinery, pharmaceutical and chemical products, and precision instruments – amounted to CHF 17.6 million.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers and artists from Cuba can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
Peace promotion and human security
The Swiss embassy in Cuba has provided financial support for projects related to human security.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Switzerland supports the efforts of Cuban society to further the nation's development in a peaceful and participatory manner on the basis of the social achievements that have been made to date. It promotes local initiatives that improve living conditions and strengthen institutions by means of practical measures.
Since 2011, Swiss development cooperation activities in Cuba have been focused on municipal-level development. In this context, Switzerland supports national strategies to promote local development in the areas of agriculture and housing. In 2015, Switzerland allocated almost CHF 10 million to international cooperation in Cuba.
Swiss nationals in Cuba
According to the Statistics on the Swiss Abroad, 305 Swiss nationals were living in Cuba at the end of 2016.
The two countries share regular cultural exchanges mainly in music and the visual arts, involving a series of exhibitions and concerts.
History of bilateral relations
When Cuba became an independent republic in 1902, Switzerland promptly recognised the new republic and established diplomatic and consular relations with it. The first Swiss honorary consuls to Cuba were appointed in the 19th century. The Swiss consulate was established in 1918 and was gradually upgraded to a full embassy in 1957.
As far back as the 19th century, there was considerable trade, which continued after the Cuban revolution in 1959.